The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 that we should, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it”.
This verse gives us great encouragement to really nurture and teach our kids the things of God. It makes the promise that if we do, they will continue on in their faith.
Here are a few ways we are trying to train our kids in the things of God.
1. Modelling – we try our best to model the right way to follow Jesus in front of our kids so they can learn how to do it themselves.
2. Teaching – we show our kids what the Bible teaches on different subjects in a practical way so it is easy to live it out.
3. Encouragement – whenever our kids do something well we try to encourage and positively reinforce what they are doing.
4. Correction – we give them constructive criticism to correct the behaviour in they are doing something wrong.
5. Benefits – we show the benefits of living the way God wants us to live and that it makes sense to do so.
6. Love – we let our kids know how much we as parents we love them and just how much God really loves them.
7. Purpose – we show our kids that God has made them a certain way to do certain things in this life and that we should seek out God’s will for our lives.
8. Developing – we are helping our kids to develop their own faith and relationship with God. We want them to have their own personal faith and to relate to God in a way that is meaningful to them.
At the heart of this training is a desire to pass our faith on to our kids. As parents we want to be faithful to God and His Word and to prepare them to be the best they can be and to make a positive impact of the world around them.
In Matthew 5:3-10 Jesus opens the Sermon on the Mount with The Beatitudes or the be-attitudes as I have heard them called. It says…
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
It is interesting to note that the Greek work used for “blesses” is Makareeos (Mak-ar-ee-os). This word can be translated as supremely blessed, fortunate, well off, or happy. This helps us to further understand what this passage means.
When I first read this passage years ago I thought it was talking about different groups of people. However, over time I have come to see that these are the attitudes we should all display as Christians.
In much the same way we should display the Fruits of the Spirit that Galatians 5:22-23 talks about, as Christians we should display these qualities that Jesus opened His most famous sermon with.
God wants us to realise our need for Him, He wants us to want to see justice done, He wants us to be merciful, He wants us to be pure of heart. He also promises to comfort us when we mourn and when we are persecuted for our faith.
Let’s all purpose today to really live with pure hearts, to be humble, to work for peace, to show justice and realise our complete and total dependence on God.
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Unwholesome is not a word that is used all the time today. Dictionary.com says it is something that is “detrimental to physical or mental health: an unwholesome climate” and something that is “morally harmful or depraved: unwholesome practices”.
Ephesians 4:29 is relating it to speech. We are not to let unwholesome words come out of our mouths. Why? Because they have a tendancy to discourage or tear down those who hear them.
I like the second part of the verse, it tells us the type of words that we should be using. Words that build others up according to their needs. We need to speak words of life, words of faith, words of encouragement. Words that build up those who hear them.
As the Book of James tells us in a number of places (James 1:26, 3:1-2), the tongue and the words we say have so much power. The power to build up or the power to tear down. Let’s all purpose in our hearts today to use positive encouraging words.
In my morning devotions this morning I was reflecting on the way that God changes our lives over time. Our old habits and attitudes slowly fall away and good deeds start to flow.
As I was thinking about this I was thinking of two ways this process happens.
1. The Word of God – the Bible has a way of transforming our thinking. As Hebrews 4:12 says it cuts to the heart of things and shows us where we are wrong. But it doesn’t leave us all condemned, it gives hope and forgiveness and shows us the right way to think and live. Time spent reflectively in God’s Word brings godly change.
2. The Spirit of God – God’s Holy Spirit helps to transform us inwardly. When we come to Christ the Holy Spirit resides in us (Romans 8:11) and He helps us to change. Day by day we are transformed inwardly (2 Corinthians 4:16) and we are changed into the likeness of Christ.
So the Word of God and the Spirit of God work hand in hand. As we spend time in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit teaches, changes and strengthens us to become the people God intended us to be all along.
Let’s purpose to spend time in God’s Word and allow the Holy Spirit to bring change to our hearts and minds today. Let’s be a transformed people!
Over the last week or so I have been reflecting on the Old Testament Book of Habakkuk. It is one of books that is often referred to in the minor prophets section of the Bible. Habakkuk was written at the end of the 7th century BC. It was a time when the Babylonians were having their second go at being a superpower in the region.
Habakkuk was becoming increasingly frustrated at the evil and violence of the Babylonians and wondered why God wasn’t doing anything about it (Hab 1:2-4). God’s reply basically says that I see what is going on and in my own time I will respond appropriately. In verse 5 of chapter 1 God says that you will not believe what I am going to do when you hear about it.
Habakkuk then questions God again in chapter 2:13. It says, “…Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” God responds again in chapter 2 verse 1-4. He says a time is coming when the Babylonians will be punished for what they have done. He also encourages them to live by faith in God as this will see them through.
After God spoke a second time Habakkuk seems to accept what God is saying. Even though times are tough and will be tough, a time will come when things are better. Habakkuk’s prayer in chapter 3 shows that he decided to put his faith and trust in God. He says things like I will rejoice because You are my Saviour, I will wait patiently for You to act and the sovereign Lord gives me strength.
So what can we draw from Habakkuk for today? Here are three things…
1. If we sometimes get frustrated by the evil that is all around us in the world today, like Habakkuk we can take our concerns to God.
2. As we bring our concerns to God, we can be assured that in His time He will deal with this evil and bring better times for us all.
3. In the meantime our task is to put our faith and trust in Him and continue to live by faith that all He says will happen, will come to pass.
There are a number of places in the Bible where it talks about God giving us spiritual gifts to help us undertake His work in this world. Romans 12:1-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-31 are two places where this is touched on.
As I have reflected on using our spiritual gifts lately I have been reminded just how important it is to work in the area of our giftings. From my personal experience I find that when I work in an area where God has supplied and gifted me I seem to flow alot more smoothly. Conversely, I seem to struggle and get very tired before long when I am not.
I really saw this working in our area of giftings in action at the Real Men’s conference in Perth recently. As I watched the speakers, the musicians, and the techo’s doing their stuff they all seemed to flow in their areas. Of course you have to work to do the job and keep developing the gifts, but to watch them serve there was an ease about how they did things.
I remember years ago reading about this in Rick Warren’s “A Purpose Driven Life”. He talked about when he was a young Pastor and being involved in lots of areas. He would tire very quickly and burn himself out. When he stepped back and focussed on a few areas where he felt called and gifted, his ministry started to take shape. He found his “hitting zone”.
Another area I have found that is positive about working in your giftings is that you have more time for other things in your life. If you know what your gifts are and you are using them to serve God and others, it narrows down the amount of things you are involved with. Because as Christians we know how easy it is to put your name on the roster in lots of different areas! Working in your gifted areas gives you time to smell the roses and take time out for family, hobbies and rest.
So I guess these reflections lately have been a reminder of the importance of us all working in our gifted areas. It means we can flow with God as we go about serving Him in the area He created for us before the foundations of the earth (Ephesians 2:10). It is so freeing and so much easier to be a round peg in a round hole rather than always trying to force ourselves into another space.
When I did my Bible College studies a few years ago one of the books I came across was Allan Harman’s “Learning about the Old Testament”. It was one of the books used for Old Testament Introduction.
The author Allan Harman is Principal and Old Testament Professor at Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. Here’s a look at the blurb…
How does the Old Testament relate to your faith? Is it just a repository of thrilling stories and strange rules which have been superceded by the New Testament? Or is it a source of guidance and learning that gives us a vibrant Christian life? Allan Harman here explains many different aspects of the Old Testament, particularly the importance of covenant in God’s relations with humanity. This is seen at Creation, and with Noah and Abraham. He also covers the history of Israel, looking at the exodus and the covenant instituted at Sinai. In particular, he shows how the Messiah is anticipated. Surveys are also given of what it meant to be a ruler or king in Israel as well as a prophet and a poet.
Although Professor Harman is an academic, this book is written in very plain English and is very easy to read. It gives a very good overview of the Old Testament in 112 pages. I am not a huge reader but was able to read it in two fairly short sittings.
If you are a Christian and wanting to know more about the Old Testament, this book will help you to get a really good overview in a short time. I found it really helped me to understand God’s covenant relationship with mankind and His deep love and concern for us all.
The best thing of all is it is available online at Koorong for only A$3.50. You can find it here.
I was reading Deuteronomy chapter 4 the other morning. When I got to verse 29 I had to pause and reflect.
It says, “But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul”.
As I reflected I really wanted to understand what God meant by seek. How did He want me to seek Him? This caused me to look at the Hebrew word for seek that was used in the passage. It was “baqash” (baw-kash).
When you look up the meaning it says to search out by any method; but specifically in worship or prayer. It also has implications of striving after or to ask, beg, beseech, desire, enquire, get, make inquisition, procure.
I found it interesting to note that the same word “baqash” was used in Jeremiah 29:11-13 where it says to seek Him and we will find Him when we seek with all of our hearts.
If you want to find God today. Seek Him by prayer and worship and seek Him with all of you heart. He promises to be found by you.